Apple typically uses its annual developer conference - WWDC - to announce some of the software features that will come to its devices later in the year. At WWDC 2019, we saw a preview of a few of the features coming to iPhones, iPads and Apple Watch.

You can read all about iOS 13 and the new iPadOS in our separate features, but here we are focussing on what new features are coming to the Apple Watch. This is everything we know so far about WatchOS 6.

WatchOS 6: The biggest features

Apple / Pocket-lintApple WatchOS 6 features news and release date image 2

Dedicated App Store

WatchOS 6 will bring a dedicated App Store to Apple Watch, allowing you to shop tens of thousands of apps and download them directly to your wrist. It means you won't need to have an app on your iPhone for it to be on your wrist. You can search the Apple Watch App Store using Siri, Scribble or Dictation and you'll be able to tap on an app and read all about it before downloading.

Apple / Pocket-lintApple WatchOS 6 features news and release date image 3

Activity trends

Apple Watch is great for snapshot activity tracking, but WatchOS 6 will make it even better, offering access to all the other data your Watch captures without you perhaps realising. The new software will introduce a new Trends feature that shows whether a metric is heading up or down, from VO2 Max to walking pace.

Trends will compare your latest 90-day averages to longer-term performances over a year to see how you're doing. If you're slacking, you'll get coaching suggestions to get you back on track.

Apple / Pocket-lintApple WatchOS 6 features news and release date image 4

Female health tracking 

WatchOS 6 will introduce female health tracking to Apple Watch - something the likes of Fitbit already offers. Female users will gain insight into their menstrual cycle, allowing them to track irregularities and symptoms, as well as learn windows of fertility.

Users will need to use the Cycle Tracking app to log daily information about their menstrual cycle, such as flow, along with symptoms like headaches or cramps and you'll also be able to add results from ovulation tests or basal thermometer readings.

They will then be able to see cycle length and variation in a simple graphical chart on the redesigned Health app on iPhone, and they will be alerted when a Fertile Window may start.

Apple / Pocket-lintApple WatchOS 6 features news and release date image 5

Hearing health

WatchOS 6 continues to monitor health, with the latest focus being hearing. A new Noise app monitors your environment's ambient noise and tracks the duration of your exposure.

You'll receive a notification on your Apple Watch when it detects a rise in the decibel level to a point that hearing could be affected, allowing you to step out of a crowded bar or use ear plugs to protect your ears.

Apple / Pocket-lintApple WatchOS 6 features news and release date image 6

Enhanced Siri

Siri will see some improvements in the WatchOS 6 update. You'll be able to ask "What song is this" by just raising your wrist when you hear a new track you like, for example. You'll also be able to search a topic and scroll through the top results of web pages on your wrist rather than having to take out your iPhone.

Apple / Pocket-lintApple WatchOS 6 features news and release date image 7

New Watch faces

Perhaps one of the more unsurprising new features, WatchOS 6 will bring several new watch faces. There will be several options, from fashionable to practical, such as one similar to Infograph but with a solid colour in the middle.

New complications will also offer instant access to more apps and features with a tap, such as decibel labels, signal strength and weather information. In terms of time, you'll be able to set a chime to ring in a new hour, or hold two fingers on your watch face to hear the time out loud.

Apple / Pocket-lintApple WatchOS 6 features news and release date image 8

Automatic Audiobooks syncing

Any Apple Books titles within your Reading Now list will automatically sync to your Apple Watch in WatchOS 6. Tapping the cover and hitting play will allow you to pick up where you left off, no matter which Apple device you were last reading on.

Apple / Pocket-lintApple WatchOS 6 features news and release date image 9

Easier access to more Apple apps

WatchOS 6 will bring easier access to more Apple access directly on your wrist, including Calculator, Voice Memos and a redesigned Reminders. You'll be able to start a voice recording from your wrist for example, as well as add a new reminder and you'll be able to open calculator on your wrist too. Watch out Casio, Apple Watch is coming for your calculator watch.

Apple / Pocket-lintApple WatchOS 6 features news and release date image 10

Add an Animoji or Memoji to Messages

Messages sent from your Apple Watch will be able to include Animoji and Memoji stickers with WatchOS 6, like you can when you send a message from your iPhone, so you'll be able to send that stroppy Panda or happy skull directly from your wrist. 

WatchOS 6: When can you try it?

WatchOS 6 is "coming this Fall". We expect it to be announced alongside the Apple Watch 5 and new iPhones at some point in September 2019.

WatchOS 6: Which Apple Watch models will be compatible?

WatchOS 6 will be available on the following Apple Watch devices: 

You will also an iPhone 6S or newer, running iOS 13. Note that the original Apple Watch is not on the list, as it wasn't for WatchOS 5.